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Press Release

Chelmsford Man Charged with Attempting to Destroy Power Lines in Tyngsborough with Incendiary Device

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A previously-convicted Chelmsford man was charged today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with attempting to destroy high-voltage power lines with an incendiary device.

Danny M. Kelly, 61, was charged in a complaint with attempting to maliciously destroy and damage property used in interstate and foreign commerce and in an activity affecting interstate and foreign commerce by means of fire.  Kelly was detained following an appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Page Kelley today.

According to the complaint, on March 30, 2016, a brush fire broke out near Locust Avenue in Tyngsborough, Mass., in the vicinity of high-voltage power lines that bring power to the greater Boston area from Canada.  After fire crews extinguished the fire, emergency and National Grid officials observed several suspicious objects dangling from the power lines.  The objects were rendered safe by law enforcement officials and determined to be homemade incendiary devices containing materials which together make thermite, a substance that can cut through metal objects, such as power lines.  At least one of the devices had been activated and fell to the ground and ignited the brush fire.

According to the complaint, federal agents also found a typed note on one of the high-voltage grid poles.  The unsigned note took credit for cutting the lines, threatened future attacks, and threatened to disseminate on terrorist and anarchist websites the instructions on how to make the thermite devices.

As alleged in the complaint, federal law enforcement agents quickly recognized several similarities between this attack on the power infrastructure and an extortionate scheme in 2004-2005 in which Kelly had cut approximately 18 cable and telephone lines.  The FBI also learned of recent shipments to Kelly’s residence of chemicals from which thermite can be made.  During the search of Kelly’s residence, the FBI found an additional thermite device as well as additional chemicals and other materials related to the crime.

Kelly was convicted in federal court for the 2004-2005 crime, and has a long history of grievances with the court system, the immigration system, and the Town of Chelmsford. 

The charge provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and no greater than 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Richard McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Chief James Spinney of the Chelmsford Police Department; and Chief Richard Howe of the Tyngsborough Police Department, made the announcement today.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, National Guard Civil Support Team, Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, National Grid and Tyngsborough Fire Department are also assisting in the investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty of Ortiz’s National Security Unit.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 4, 2016

National Security